The natural environment is being aggressively attacked by rapid and increasing growth in human economic and social activities in terms of population, urbanization, industrialization and technological advancement which has hitherto resulted in noise pollution. This paper sought to ascertain the effect of environmental noise pollution and school functioning of secondary school students in Calabar Metropolis. To achieve the objectives of the study, three research hypotheses were formulated to test the effects of traffic noise pollution, industrial noise and commercial/social noise pollution on the students. The study adopted a survey research design. The instrument used for data collection was a five point Likert-like questionnaire tool and was administered on 200 respondents randomly drawn from four secondary schools. The data were analysed using the Pearson Product Moment Correlation Coefficient. The result of the findings revealed that traffic noise, industrial noise and commercial/social noise pollution negatively affect the smooth cognitive, psychomotor and affective school functioning of the students in the secondary school. Based on the findings some suggestions are made to curb the effects of noise pollution in the Calabar Metropolis and its environs.

Acknowledgement: This article is one outcome of the research project which was funded by IGA Palacky University Olomouc _2013_013 Czech Republic.


The human environment is filled with sound. The produced sound may contained properties that are pleasant or harsh, orderly or discordant, palatable or discomforting depending on the psyche and configuration of the listener and the consistency and intensity of the sound produced or both. Whereas sound with the former properties may not necessarily pose a significant threat to human health and development, those with later characteristics do. When sound signals possess properties or characteristics harmful to the growth and development of the listener, it can simply be classified as noise (Kalu, Egaga, Olayi & Ewa, 2010).

Noise is an unpleasant sound. It is an erratic, in harmonious, meaningless or statistically random variations in sound pressure. Noise is a noxious agent with pervasive effect on human hearing or health.

The effects of environmental noise pollution are multifarious to human health, among which are irritability, insomnia, annoyance, nuisance, muscular rigidity, perspiration, cerebral disorientation, low productivity, psychological changes in heart beat and blood pressure as well as psychological stress (Kalu et al).

The natural environment is being aggressively attacked by rapid and increasing growth in human economic and social activities such as urbanization, population, civilization, industrialization, agricultural practices, construction of infrastructures and application of science and technology in recent times has resulted to high increase of noise pollution in Nigeria (Enu, 2012).

Ukpong (1995), observes that despite vast improvement in human health globally over the past decades, with millions of people living longer healthier lives, yet preventable illnesses and premature death are still occurring in shockingly large number due to unavoidable environmental factors which Kalu et al described as the deplorable environmental predicament, an irony of achievement as man is dying of success. Rapid increase in human activities has resulted in noise pollution, increase threat to hearing level of many urban cities dwellers in Nigeria. Unfortunately, many citizens in this area as well as other parts of Africa tend not to notice the havoc done to life by environmental noise pollution to their hearing and other functional levels of the individuals as every malfunctioning is superstitiously blamed on the ‘witchcraft’ or the ‘devil’.

It is against this background that this paper sought to ascertain the hazardous effect of environmental noise pollution on the school functioning of secondary school students in Calabar Metropolis.

Statement of the problem:

Calabar metropolis is the capital city of Cross River State in Nigeria. It is comprised of two local government areas-Calabar Municipality and Calabar South respectively. The high concentration of industrial layout and construction firms, there has been a rapid increase in the population and heightened level of commercial and industrial activities has resulted to high increase in noise pollution in Calabar.

In view of the above problem observed that the paper sought to ascertain the fate of the students whose schools are located in the noisy areas

HO1: there is no significant relationship between traffic noise pollution and school function of secondary school students in Calabar Metropolis.

HO2: There is no significant effect of industrial noise pollution and school functioning of secondary school students in Calabar.

HO3: There is no significant relationship between commercial/social noise pollution and school functioning of secondary school students on Calabar Metropolis.

Literature review:

Traffic noise pollution and school functioning of secondary school students:

According to Shield and Dockrell (2003), in the past 30 years there have been many investigations examining the relationship between noise exposure of school age children and their school functioning (performance) in various cognitive tasks. The earlier studies were concerned mainly with external environmental noise exposure of schools, but more recently the effects of internal classroom noise have been investigated. It is generally accepted that noise has a detrimental effect upon learning and attainments of secondary school students.

Picard and Bradley (1990) carried out two major researches in this area. The result showed that chronic noise exposure of young school children has a particular detrimental effect upon their reading ability, attention, mathematics as well as other tasks that required high cognitive processing. In summary, the general effects of chronic noise exposure on children are deficits in sustained attention and visual attention, poorer auditory discrimination and speech perception, poorer memory for tasks that requires high processing demands of semantic material, poorer reading ability and general school performance on national standard tests.

The major sources of noise pollution in the community are transport such as air craft’s taking off and landing, road traffic and railways, fixed industrial and commercial installations, construction activities, commercial/social noise and leisure activities.

Road traffic is the most widespread source of noise pollution in both developed and developing countries. A study carried out for the European Commission by the French Institution INRETS in 1994 as cited by Enu, (2012),has estimated that about 200 million people in the European union, 60 percent of the population are exposed to road traffic noise level exceeding 55dB and some 132million (39 percent) to60dB. In a similar study, Shield and Dockrell (2000), carried a survey of noise sources outside school in London, found that the predominant sources were cars (86%), aircrafts (54%), lorries (35%), buses (24%) and railway (11%). This distribution of sources of noise agrees closely with the occurrence of sources recorded outside dwellings around the UK during the 2000/2001National Noise Incidence Survey. For instance NNIS found 87% of dwellings exposed to road traffic noise, and 12% of dwellings to rail noise. It can therefore be assumed that these figures are likely to reflect the typical noise exposure of school children in industrial societies.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) (2001), traffic noise is one of the main sources of environmental noise pollution exposure in urban communities. Like the home and work place, the school is also a micro environment. Hence the school is important for the cognitive, psychomotor and affective development of the school children. Schools are therefore expected to ensure thebestpossible conditions for a child’s physical, emotional, psychological and intellectual development, including control of excess environmental noise.

Noise levels are measured in decibels (dB). One decibel is the threshold of hearing. Approximately, 60dB is the level of normal talking. According to WHO (2001), the permissible noise level in school environment should not exceed 35dB. Exposure of school children for more than six hours a day to sound in excess of 85dB is potentially hazardous to health. In less developed countries (LDC), like Nigeria, many children do not have access to serene or ideal learning environments. Therefore, noise control in the school environment is a really public health challenge.

Godson, Ana, Derek, Shendell & Brown (2009), opine that noise has both auditory and non auditory effects. Although the direct physical consequence of loud noise exposure especially over a long period of time is hearing loss and tinnitus (auditory effect), but noise at lower levels can have an indirect impact on our physiological and psychological systems that is non auditory effects. Scientific evidence has suggested that chronic noise exposure of schools near air, road and/ or rail traffic has a stress and distracting stimulus which can lead adults and children at schools and home to adverse effects of health problems such as elevated blood pressure(hypertension), noise induced hearing loss, annoyance, stress, mental health and behaviour problems, decrease school performance and cognitive delays like trouble with word discrimination, reading, problem solving, memorization and interference with speech communication.

Noise, therefore is a physical exposure agent and environmental and occupational hazard presenting risks to our overall health and wellbeing. Studies carried out industrialized countries cities such as in the European Union have suggested that children living and attending schools near airports, elevated trains and highways suffer distractions, lack of concentration and restlessness resulting in poor scores and low productivity in their academic performance as compared to their peers in less noisy environments. Godson et al further observed that in less developed countries where urban laws and proper land use conditions that either do not exist or are not always monitored and enforced, few locale specific data exist to help improve the situation.

Effect of industrial noise pollution and school functioning of secondary school students:

Exposure to continuous noise of 85dB-90dBA, particularly over a life time in industrial settings can lead to a progressive loss of hearing, with an increase in the threshold of hearing sensitivity. Exposure to industrial noise disturbed sleep in adults and children. Industrial noise interferes in complex tasks performance, modifies social behaviour and causes annoyance. Studies on occupational and environmental noise exposure suggest an association with hypertension. Studies on industrial noise exposure are related to raise catecholamine secretion in children. Moreover, chronic exposure of children to aircraft and industrial noise pollution impairs reading comprehension and long term memory and maybe associated with raised blood pressure in adults. There is strong evidence of the effect of noise on the cardiovascular system based on studies from studies on occupation/industrial settings. (Stenfield & Matheson, 2003). They further posited that many occupational studies have suggested that individuals who are chronically exposed to continuous industrial noise at levels at least 85dB have higher blood pressure than those not exposed to noise.

Kalu et al (2010), hold it that most manufacturing and industrial operations create noise. In most cases this may be limited to the plants interior. While in others, it will affect the communities (schools) in the neighbourhood. Although the community noise pollution was formerly restricted mainly to heavy manufacturing industries. This is not necessarily the case today as small manufacturing industries or business services which create noise may be located close to school properties. The introduction of improved ventilation has resulted in the installation of powerful fans located in walls and roofs of buildings which can if badly positioned leads to significant noise level in the classroom especially classes. In the same vein, Bakari (1989) as cited in Bakari (2013), carried out a study on the effect of industrial noise in Nigeria, the result revealed that the noise generated by machines was between 104 and 113dBA.66% of the workers operating in these machines exhibited hearing lsses compared to 13% of workersin industrial areas judged to be relatively noise.

British Medical Bulletin (2003), put it that construction activities are noisy and have the potentials to cause disturbance in the surrounding schools. Ventilations from industrial settings are perceived as a complement to low noise in most community surveys of noise and are found to be important factors in determining annoyance, particularly because they are commonly experienced through other senses as well as hearing.

Effect of commercial/social noise pollution and school functioning of secondary school students:

Neighbours make noise, in fact noise from the living and social habits of our neighbours generate more noise complaints than other sources of noise. These include: domestic equipment, stereos, television, animals, children’s game, lumbering machine, as well as lawn mowers. Many of these appliances may generate noise as a result of poor installation during the designing stage. The anti social habits of individuals could equally cause noise nuisance. Kalu et al (2010), further observed that the growing sophistication of leisure activities over the past few years has led to an increase in noise level in the recreational areas/centres. Population increase as a result of rural-urban drift is also a factor to be reckoned with for the increase in noise pollution in Calabar metropolis. Thus, the urban areas are now not only grappling with the menace of soil erosion, litters from industrial wastes, commercial/domestic wastes, air, water, and land pollution, but the most predominantly now is noise pollution which now counterbalance the sanity and peaceful nature of the environment. This has led to increase mental health problems, emotional imbalance and psychological trauma of the citizenry. In the same vein Enu (2012) posits that noise pollution is caused by man’s technical activities on the environment such as loud music, bulldozer operation, open market noise, barking of dogs, hooting/blasting of horns by motor vehicles/ships, motor parks, night clubs, jet/aircrafts, industrial machines as well as household appliances which produces sound more than 60dB could damage one’s hearing. The author further observes that people exposed to loud sound above 60-100dB for quite considerable length of time may suffer from physical, emotional discomfort and deafness.

Menkiti (1996) also observed that when a sound becomes undesirable, it pollutes the desirable one. For instance, noise from blast devices, industrial machines process, generators, road haulage and heavy duty vehicles could be dangerous. The writer summarised the causes of noise pollution in Calabar metropolis to include:

Loud Music: With the recent development in the Calabar Metropolis where record stores and worship centres are located at every nook and cranes of the city and sometimes very close the schools have a grievous effects due to the rate at which the operators tune the volume of their appliances/loud speakers. The major aim is to attract costumers/worshippers respectively. No one can quantify the negative effects on the neighbourhood. It causes discomfort and contamination to the entire environment, thereby making it undesirable for human existence.